Publisher: TOR Fantasy, 1998.
Publication Date: 1998
Binding: Soft cover
Book Condition: Very Good
Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good
Edition: 1st Edition
Stated first edition, advance reading copy trade paperback. (ISBN 0-312-86653-4) Near fine tight copy, unread, near fine glossy wrappers "A first-rate tale, an epic fantasy that more than delivers on its promise. Read it soon and treat yourself to an adventure you won't forget." — Terry Brooks. Certain authors of fantasy are immediately recognizable as major talents, towering above the rest of the category. Add to that list of writers David Farland, whose grand epic begins with a flourish with The Runelords. A young Runelord, Prince Gaborn Val Orden of Mystarria, is traveling in disguise across the sunlit fall countryside of Sylvarresta, his only companion the warrior bodyguard Borenson. Gaborn is absorbing the beauty of the land and becoming acquainted with its people, preparing himself to ask for the hand of Princess Iome, heir to the throne of Sylvarresta. While stopping at a local tavern, Gaborn notices a pair of foreigners, powerful men who move with supernatural grace and strength — assassins. This moment of recognition brings an abrupt end to Gaborn's sheltered upbringing, launching him into the dangerous realm of politics and treachery. His pleasant journey becomes a perilous race to warn the King of deadly danger. What seems to be a threat to the royal family rapidly escalates into a threat to all human life. The very Earth is in pain. Its wounds must be healed. There must arise a new king, the Earth King must be reborn. Only then will humanity have a chance to survive. "When I reached the end of this first volume, The Runelords, and saw grace arise from the devastating battlefield where too many great hearts lay dead, Farland had earned the tears that came to my eyes. It was not sentiment but epiphany." — Orson Scott Card. Fantasy. Bookseller Inventory # arneta3034
Synopsis: The first book of an epic heroic fantasy. Young Prince Gabon, a Runelord prince who has received endowments of strength and perception, encounters many adventures as he travels in disguise to the fiefdom of King Sylvarresta to ask for the hand of the king's daughter in marriage.
Review: The Runelords is that rare book that will remind you why you started reading fantasy in the first place. Much of the setting--and even some of the story--is conventional fantasy fare, but David Farland, aside from being a masterful storyteller, has built his world around a complex and thought-provoking social system involving the exchange of "endowments." Attributes such as stamina, grace, and wit are a currency: a vassal may help his lord by endowing him with all of his strength, for instance, and in turn the vassal comes under the lord's care as his "dedicate," too weak to even walk. A Runelord might have hundreds of such endowments, giving him superhuman senses and abilities, but he then must care for the hundreds that he has deprived of strength, or beauty, or sight.
Runelords excels because this novel idea is not mere window dressing--Farland uses it to explore fundamental questions of life and morality. The story's hero, the young Runelord Gaborn, struggles to define his role in this "shameful economy" while keeping his commitments to himself, to his people, to the woman he loves, and to the earth itself. We end up asking ourselves the same questions: Should you choose your friends based on insight or virtue? Is it better to be just or good? Competent fantasy lets you escape to adventure in faraway lands, but exceptional fantasy makes sure you have something to think about when you get back. Runelords accomplishes the latter. --Paul Hughes
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